After Wednesday night’s clash between Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes, in which SKC pulled off a wild late draw, Manager and Sporting Director Peter Vermes joined the media for an unusual post-game press conference. Not because of content, but because, due to COVID protocols, the media was in the room and he was remote.
Vermes wasted no time digging into Joseph Dickerson and his officiating crew, getting a dig in on his first answer. When asked about his thoughts on the game, he summed up the first answer with “all in all, good effort by the guys in finding a way back into the game, not withstanding the referee.”
After going on to answer a question about Wilson Harris and Cameron Duke (“the player of the game from our perspective”), Vermes wandered back to talking about the officiating. Vermes stated, “the referee should have given, probably, for card accumulation, two more double yellows in the game for fouls on [Duke]. There were two fouls in the first half that he didn’t call. I don’t even know what [the referee is] watching in the game. The inconsistency was incredibly consistent.”
As I was watching the game live, I had the same thought. Towards the end of the first half there is a foul called on Remi Walter on a really rough challenge by Eric Remedi. Remedi went to ground, appeared to get the ball but then violently go through the man. Somehow, Walter was called for the foul. [Related: Vermes said Walter wasn’t injured and his sub at half-time was pre-planned — presumably as he just returned from injury.]
I thought that call was wrong, but I’d be okay with it if the later play by Jaylin Lindsey in the second half, where he earned a yellow for a tackle on Marcos Lopez, was called the same way. He gets the ball and takes out the man. I think it’s definitely a foul. I’m not sure it deserves a yellow, but if it does, so does the tackle from Remedi, which again, didn’t even draw a foul.
Vermes didn’t stop there. When he was asked about the overturned penalty kick call by VAR he immediately interjected that it was a “complete cluster.” I believe we all know the word that comes after cluster (though PV didn’t say it).
He elaborated saying, “I’ll tell you exactly why. Because, if you’re not calling a penalty, Johnny still has the ball. [The ref] completely takes the possession away from us and allows the other team off the hook.”
Vermes continued, “you call a penalty, the rule is it has to be clear and obvious. There is no doubt in my mind that that player hits Johnny Russell. Hits him! Hits him! How you call that back, I have absolutely zero idea. Complete cluster. Disrespect to our team. To the efforts put in by everybody, everyday. To the fan base. It’s disrespectful! It’s, it’s, it’s just... I can’t even... I can’t understand it. I don’t know how, when you have replays, you can make that much of a mistake.
“We had this same thing happen last year when we were in Dallas. We played there, great chance, actually the foul was called against us. It was the easiest call to make. You could have actually thrown the goalkeeper out if you wanted to as well on the play.”
He summed it all up that he was “very, very disappointed.” Even repeating that very line before saying he “thought the officiating of the game was below average. Simple as can be. That play was horrible.”
I think this gives some insight to what we often see on TV. Vermes was forced to watch remotely and he was getting all the angles he doesn’t get on the sideline or in the stadium, but that fans often get and are so irate about.
Unlike when fans and media go off on the officials, Vermes could face repercussions. He won’t be the only one on Sporting KC that could be in that situation. Daniel Salloi was upset as well before dialing back his rhetoric.
“I’ve never seen that many bad calls in a game,” started Salloi. “It’s shocking!” Then he tried to soften it slightly saying, “obviously referees can have bad games too” before elaborating that he thought the ref got three things wrong on the penalty situation alone: taking the PK away, stopping the play while KC has possession still and then giving the ball to San Jose after the review.
Salloi: "Obviously referees can have bad games too."— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) July 22, 2021
He described it as "three bad calls" in the PK alone in taking it away, stopping the play and giving San Jose the ball after the review. #SportingKC #SKCvSJ
One thing that happens after a game is the ability for a pool reporter to ask questions of the referees. Unfortunately, the questions get asked, the answers are then written and provided to the media, but there is no chance to follow-up. Here are the responses from PRO (the Professional Referee Organization:
“The penalty kick awarded to Sporting Kansas City at 86:50 was overturned as the VAR recommended an on-field review for a clear and obvious error. Upon viewing the incident again, the Referee agreed that the penalty kick given was clearly wrong and reversed the decision.”
“Since penalty kick was no longer the decision after video review, the restart became a dropped ball. As the ball was within the penalty area at the time that play was stopped, Law 8 clearly states that the ball must be dropped for the defending team goalkeeper.”
Law 8 is “The Start and Restart of Play.” According to the 2021-22 IFAB laws of the game, under the “dropped ball” procedure, the rule was applied correctly. It reads, “The ball is dropped for the defending team goalkeeper in their penalty area if, when play was stopped:
- the ball was in the penalty area or
- the last touch of the ball was in the penalty area”
The issue is of course, if it’s not a penalty, it shouldn’t be stopped. But of course, it was a penalty, or if you don’t agree with that, at the very least it’s not clear and obvious enough to overturn it. How long the review ultimately took is all the proof I need of that.
You can watch Vermes’ press conference in it’s entirety for yourself.